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Wed, July 17

Anti-camping fence gets OK from Mohave County Supervisors

Glenn Bellefeuille enjoys a sunny afternoon camped out on BLM land just north of Lake Havasu City. (Photo by Scott Shindledecker/Today’s News-Herald)

Glenn Bellefeuille enjoys a sunny afternoon camped out on BLM land just north of Lake Havasu City. (Photo by Scott Shindledecker/Today’s News-Herald)

KINGMAN – A fence might not be the most effective solution, but it’s a step in the right direction to keep people from camping adjacent to county rights of way, according to Mohave County Supervisor Ron Gould.

On Monday, the Mohave County Board of Supervisors approved a motion to erect two lengths of fence near the intersection of Fathom Drive and London Bridge Road, to prevent such campers from taking root in an area immediately west of the Shops at Lake Havasu.

As local residents made their case for action, the Mohave County Board of Supervisors on Monday viewed aerial photos over northern Lake Havasu City. Photos taken in 2017 showed an almost serene desert landscape, with rolling hills and dunes surrounding the area of Crystal Beach. Photos taken in 2019 showed a region transformed, with new trails created and abandoned campsites marring the region’s slopes.

According to Vista Drive resident Bill Gardener, campers have been a problem in the area for only the past two years. As more recreational vehicle campers discover the Crystal Beach area, they have been parking within a quarter-mile of the roadway – something that is forbidden by county statute. But the land on which they’ve been parking belongs to the Arizona State Lands Office, which county officials say lies beyond the jurisdiction of the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office.

Permits for camping on State Trust land allow a maximum 14-day stay, residents said at Monday’s board meeting, but that limitation is often flouted by campers.

“They’re camping within 50 feet of the roadway,” Gardener said. “They’re hanging their clothes out to dry, and I’ve seen vehicles with 100-gallon propane tanks. They’re not out there for only 14 days. I’ve personally drove by and seen people pulling their pants up after urinating and defecating in the area. They burn their trash, there’s broken glass all over the place … they just leave things. They leave their stuff behind. If even one gets cited and towed, they’re all going to scatter.”

Mohave County Supervisor Ron Gould presented the motion to Mohave County supervisors earlier this month.

“We have a problem in this area,” Gould said. “The rules for state trust land require you to be a quarter-mile off the road. These campers are just pulling off the shoulder of the road and beginning to camp there. County ordinance limits them to 14 days of camping. Most of them have been there the entire winter season. At its high point, there were close to 200 people camping in the area. I took it up with the State Land Department … they don’t have any rangers, and the only law enforcement to police the area is our Sheriff’s Office. They didn’t sign up to be park rangers.”

Gould requested the construction of two 1,000-foot lengths of fence in the area, effectively blocking the area of desert closest to London Bridge Road and occupied residences, which he believes will force campers to venture further away from roadways in the area. The fence would cost about $10,000 to erect, with materials provided free of charge by the State Lands Department. The fence’s construction was approved in a 4 to 1 vote, with Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson voting against it.

“State Lands is willing to work with us, and make their lands either ‘no camping’ or ‘no trespassing’,” Johnson said. “But if they’re within a quarter-mile of the road, the sheriff should be able to go out there, cite them and tow them away. It only takes seeing one of them get towed away for the others to stop. I don’t see the point of spending $10,000 on something that might not handle anything.”

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